The Quickest Way to Calculate a Restaurant Tip

Many people are simply not that great with math. If you’ve ever thrown your hands up helplessly at the restaurant when trying to calculate a tip, this one’s for you.

There’s a quick trick I use to calculate my tips that doesn’t require pulling out the cell phone and finding my calculator app.

Here’s the gist of it:

  1. Calculate 1/10th of the bill total’s dollar amount. If the bill is $37.90, 10% of 37 is 3.7. Simple enough, you just have to move a decimal point over.
  2. Double the number you just got. In my example, double 3.7 is 7.4. Or if you want to get even simpler, double 4 is 8.
  3. For OK service, round down to the nearest dollar. That would be $7. For very good service, round up. That would be $8. You could also add more for exceptional service.
  4. If the bill is really small ($15 or less), I always round up and leave at least $3-4. If the bill is unusually large ($80 or more), I’ll add in extra bucks for good service since the calculated tip will be very close to 20%.

If you follow this method for most mid-range restaurant bills, OK service will yield about a 16-19% tip and great service will yield 20-25%.


Photo by Geoff Peters 604

9 thoughts on “The Quickest Way to Calculate a Restaurant Tip

  1. Personally I still think 10% is a good tip. A little more is nice if service is absolutely great. 20% may be a sign of the times when people wanted to look like big spenders for whatever reason.

    Lest you think I’m just cheap, I was a waitress for a while. It wasn’t the 10% people who were bothersome. It was those who let their children make an absolute mess on the table and floor and not pick up, or those that had the attitude that since you were serving them you were somehow inferior. Both of these traits most often showed up with non tippers because they rationalized that they should not have to give a tip as they considered it in the price. Yes, they would say it out loud so I wasn’t try to read minds. If you ever want to have some lessons in human behavior try waitressing for a while.

  2. Interesting input (thanks so much!). It must definitely be insightful being on the other side of the transaction.

    Personally, I always thought that anything less that 15% was considered rude and reflective of poor service, but you’re right–maybe that was a sign of the times.

    I’m curious to see what other people think–maybe we’ll do an ask-the-readers segment soon.

    1. Good question. I suppose it’s culturally acceptable just like anything else, and we’re programmed to do whatever’s expected of us.

    2. Overseas, most restaurants factor wages into the price of the meal and pay employees more. In the states, you can pay your wait staff significantly less than minimum wage with the expectation that tips make up the rest.

      Wojo- I been using your exact same calculation method for years!

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